July 17th, 2009
02:01 PM ET
9 years ago

Clinton again rips into vetting process

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday tore into the Obama administration's 'vetting' process

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday tore into the Obama administration's 'vetting' process

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Behind the scenes they're tearing out their hair.

Nominees for top positions in the Obama administration say they are put on seemingly endless hold for months during the "vetting" process, forced to provide minute details of their financial, personal and professional lives going back years. Many have to hire lawyers and accountants – paid for with their own money – to compile the information. Some nominees have simply given up in frustration.

Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it's affecting U.S. diplomatic relations.

"It's hard to explain in my position to our foreign counterparts that we don't have positions filled that would be the natural interlocutors or their counterparts in other countries," she said Thursday.

It's the third time this week the secretary has lambasted the process. Monday, she called it "frustrating beyond words," telling staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development who still don't have a new administrator, the process is a "nightmare."

Wednesday, in a major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton was at it again: "I mean, we are trying to get our political leaders in place to work with our very dedicated Foreign Service and Civil Service employees, but we're still not there yet. And I had no idea when I was in the Senate asking a million questions of every nominee – how really shortsighted that was."

Thursday, at a press availability, the Secretary told CNN, "Most (foreign) governments, after they are elected, are up and going in a relatively short period of time. We are now six months into our new administration and it's not only here but across the government where they don't have critical positions filled. I think it's pretty obvious that the process has gotten much more complicated, cumbersome and lengthy and that is something that I hear from everyone. And it is a matter that we're going to have to address."

Clinton added that it's not just the Obama administration and it's not happening just at the State Department or USAID. The situation has been getting worse with every administration. But some political observers say President Obama's new ethics rules make it even more challenging to get through the process.

In spite of the frustration, at the USAID town hall Clinton managed to find some ironic humor in the predicament: "… here's one of the questions you get asked: first of all, you have to remember everywhere you've lived since you were 18. And, beyond a certain age you can't even remember when you were 18!"

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Gerry

    Hillary please take over in 2012. This destruction of America has got to stop.

    July 17, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Dave

    Ethics rules?

    What Ethics rules? There isn't one ethical person in this ridiculous administration.

    What a joke.

    July 17, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Abby

    I love watching Obama travel with his family and he represents our country well and I love the fact Hillary is a problem solver and wants to create solutions. Unfortunately for our country they are both in the wrong jobs. Too bad we can't switch them.

    July 17, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Sally

    Here we go!!! If President Obama doesn't vet, the republicans are going to have a field day!!! Be Patience!!!!

    July 17, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. SC mother

    Good for Hillary for speaking out. Seems most of the ones in
    Gov't now are "Yes men!"

    I put a LOT of credibility in her assessment. She's got a good head on her shoulders – and she always does her "homework; too bad she's not President now.

    July 17, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Corey

    Alot of people don't seem to understand that the vetting process is this intense due to the nitpicking on the right. Anyone that is appointed by President Obama is placed under an unreasonable amount of scrutiny. Because of this the administration has to ensure that nothing falls out of a closet resembling a skeleton. It's easier to do the intense vetting and name the person, than have a person all picked out just to have them lambasted by the right and the media, because once that happens, pundits will try to call their vetting process incompetent.

    July 17, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Percy Smith

    Hillary would have made an awesome president. However, President Obama is doing a good job and I'm glad he's in office. I still think Hillary would have made a great Vice President.

    July 17, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Turner78X

    You think this is bad? Wait until the government takes over health care. Purchase plots and kiss your sickly elder relatives goodbye.

    July 17, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Doug, New Jersey

    "Slick Willie with his cigar was a somewhat respectable Democrat?"

    Uh yeah, compared to Obama, Blagolib, Emanuel, Napolotano, and Holder Bill Clinton is a saint. He didn't want to destroy America, steal the rights of the people to control their lives, and hold an ideological bias that makes the libs think it is great to call law abiding Americans terrorists and to racially attack any minority who dares not march to liberalism.

    July 17, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Randolph Carter said "I'm still waiting for the results of the full body cavity searches. Have a nice day!"


    Randolph, you are a kinky one! But hey... not that there's anything wrong with that!

    July 17, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Zeb

    I love Hillary.

    July 17, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Sophie

    Is there no end to the aggravation the WH can cause State? It's clear that Hillary would have been a far better President. Obama is such a little, little man. and his jealousy of Hillary is apparent to the most casual observer. Glad we got that impromptu health care update the other day while she was giving a major (and planned) policy speech. He gamed the system during the primaries and he's still gaming it now. Wonder if he really thinks people are that stupid? Oh yeah–they "voted" for him.

    July 17, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. vetting..betting or wetting the dems.

    Who cares DEMS when the country is going down the drains.....

    Gov. Sarah Palin made a wise move to change course with courage in mid-stream and leaving Alaska in good shape (an envy of many) and with it she also stopped the Pundits ridiculing her and her beloved
    State of Alaska. The timing of her announcement to step-down was brilliant and lacing it with riddles left the Pundits scratching their heads
    too dumb to understand her wisom in it all.

    Sarah Palin will emerge on the national scene the better for it and as the leader she really is and also bring Leadership and salvation the
    country needs to become WHOLE again...!!

    July 17, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. bam

    Everyone knew she'd be trouble for President Obama. Thank goodness he didn't succumb to the pressure to choose her as VP.

    July 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Whatever...

    Stop stirring the pot on this CNN. There is no conflict. She's not criticizing Obama, she's criticizing you guys, the public and partisan politics that has gotten so ridiculous that you can't even hire people anymore. These days an imperfect tax return is tax fraud if you're joining the Obama camp. (Too bad this scrutiny wasn't around when Bush was in office. Gosh how different things could be.)

    Wake up! She's talking about YOU!

    July 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. Obama supporter

    Again, Hilary doesn't get it. While it may seem easy in her mind to fill positions, perhaps the Obama Administration wants to make sure that there are no suprises...that the people hired are above reproach. Imagine that; no corruption!!!

    July 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Mark Hudson

    Finally, Hillary, you have started speaking with your own words instead of being the mouthpiece for the Obama administration.

    July 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. Listen, Hilly

    As the first African American person to attain the highest office in the United States, President Obama cannot afford to have ANYBODY with a smudge on their record (never mind a "blot"). If we had the first woman president, she would have the same challenges (especially if her husband had some political "baggage" of his own). That's life when you work for a racial or gender minority; you get a backseat view of how the world holds your boss to higher standards than the ones they hold for themselves.

    Get over it, honey; you CHOSE to accept the job you have. Do the job or go home.

    July 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  19. Aunt Bea and Opie

    @Dougie in NJ.You really should get your Xbox fixed,your going to blow a fuse waiting eight years for your next president.hahaha

    July 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Nia - AZ

    Well for someone who feels a since of intitalment of course se would not like the vetting process. Heck se barly made it thru herself. All this grandstanding she doingis to add pressure to let one of her "yes men" thru.
    Whatever Hilly...can you focus on N.Korea

    July 17, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Anonymous


    Maybe you should be the Secretary of Government Human Resources, cause you sure aren't doing anything in your current position except complaining. Meanwhile, N. Korea shoots off missiles, IRAN struggles for rights

    July 17, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. Scott Ragsdale

    get rid of President Obama. He expects his appointments to go through such a rigorous "vetting" process, that he himself even did not have to go through. He was'nt even willing to show the world his birth certificate. He was sworn in to uphold the American constituion, and the american way of life. All he wants is to get his face in lights, and is a self made dictator, bending and stretching the law and rules as he see's fit, no matter what the American people want. We want a leader that leads with Old fashioned Godly American values, that looks out for the good of the people, not himself. I could go on....and on.... and on....

    July 17, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Art in Chicago

    Speed up the vetting process? Ok. At the same time, what is the current cycle to get a position in corporate America? From inception, to HR, to phone screen, to interview, to interview, to interview, to waiting, to waiting, to maybe offer, to counteroffer, to final offer, to educational background check, criminal background check, credit check, drug screen, to first day of employment.

    Funny thing, we pretty much put all employees thru this nonsense, and we still get the Goldman Sachs, AIG, and GM's of the world. Nice to know the kid getting my paint at the hardware store, for $6/hr has never sinned.

    July 17, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. Butch/Good News, MA

    I knew you would blame this on the Republicans, Dutch!!!

    Was it the republicans that prevented all the previous nominees from paying their taxes?!?!?!

    Are you kidding me????

    July 17, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. roger w.

    Hillary should keep her mouth shut. President Obama didn't have to select her as Secretary of State so, she should be grateful and support his position – not criticize it. If she keeps criticizing him, she will find herself performing real secretarial duties.

    July 17, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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